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Dec 02

Fall Anime – Week 7

Review Sentai Animuger!

December, huh? Anybody out there bought an advent calendar? I must admit, the thought of daily chocolate has been tempting, but I’ve held off. Anyway, in Anicom based news, they’re holding a Secret Santa! If you’re interested in taking part (which you are) click this link, sign up and hope its not me picking your poison, so to speak.

A few shows are missing in action this week, but the good news is Mike’s back with Hajime no Ippo Rising and Samurai Flamenco! Elsewhere, Alexe has Magi covered, Phil continues with Kill la Kill, and I’m cleaning house with Galilei Donna and Kyousougiga. So let the dissections begin once more!

Mike on… Hajime no Ippo Rising (eps 6 and 7)

Seven episodes in now and I am happy to report that not only does this show continue to please, but furthermore continues to innovate, impress and demonstrate that it can always take a new jab at what is essentially the same hook each week.

This week shows the exciting conclusion to the previous week’s bout with a rather pleasant surprise conclusion to the proceedings. This fight kept up the practice of leaving the result a genuine mystery until the bitter end, building excellent tension as due to the way it was shown, we as the viewers are left wondering exactly who will win and perhaps more importantly, who actually deserves to win. This is a perspective that I cannot praise enough as the show is constantly able to put me in a position where I not only feel both parties have an equal chance of winning, but I do not automatically side with the obvious protagonist. Going further than this, we are also shown the effect an unfortunate result has on the character’s confidence and state of mind and having been in the exact same situation before myself, I can tell you that the writers completely hit the mark on this one. These scenes are all written perfectly with the art and animation truly shining these emotions through, without the need to rely on words to blatantly explain the situation away. This makes for some powerful viewing and I’m happy to say that in spite of the show’s amazing sense of humour, it is played completely straight, making for some compelling viewing.

If I had to come up with one gripe to this show (and honestly I feel like I do since I spend 112% of these reviews gushing over how amazing it is), then I would say that despite the depth of backstory and character building the first few episodes showed, we have since then spent a significant amount of time just showing each of the character’s fights. These are done well enough that it distracts from this fact very well, but it is still an issue. Having said that however, at last glance of episode seven it seemed to show that we were being taken on a plot thread that lead back to the main character Ippo’s purview, meaning that there is a great potential for continued development next episode. This seems like I’m clutching at straws, but thus far this show has earned the benefit of the doubt with me and I trust that it will get back to character development eventually and furthermore, I believe it will be worth the wait.

This thread takes the form of the plot leading up to the selection of Ippo’s next opponent and I can just tell they pulled out all the stops for this one, as this the first time we have seen a true antagonist character being introduced. We’ve seen how the show can handle a balance of combatants, but as of yet we have never seen how it handles a complete antagonist in its purest form. In one fell swoop, Hajime No Ippo proves that if it so wanted to, it could have made a threatening antagonist from episode one and simply chose not to since the one introduced here is legitimately intimidating and perhaps even terrifying. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the show takes from here because just as I started to think viewing the same old song and dance was starting to get old, this show throws another left hook and completely changes up the formula again.

Everything about this show is pleasing to me and it is very quickly working its way into my favourite anime of all time, which is no small feat in itself. I’m not saying that I’m difficult to please or I’m some sort of expert on such things, but the fact that everything involved just seems to hit the right note so early in, is so very impressive to me that if it continues to pull me in the way I’m hoping it will, then this anime is going to become one of the most exciting and intriguing shows I have ever seen and for a sports anime, that in itself is too astounding to put into words.

Sean on… Kyousougiga (ep 5.5)

Right, time for another helping of madness. This week-

…wait what. Yes, you are seeing that correctly, this week’s Kyousougiga is live action. In this “episode” some of the voice actors (not the important ones though) take a tour across the real Kyoto, showing some of the locations that inspired the anime, both visually and for its mythos.

I… have no clue how you begin to review this. The guy who appears halfway through seemed to have a bit more personality than the two ladies? They stayed focused most of the time without going off on crazy tangents about the anime or the location?

I suppose for us lot who don’t live in Japan its a bit more useful, as I’m certainly not versed in the history of Japan, and the latter half of the episode forgoes the jumping around to focus on one specific location, along with Myoue Shounin (inspiration for Myoue) and the Choujuugiga, which the show is named after.

Certainly the episode didn’t drag, but I wouldn’t have wanted it to go on much longer either. If you’re really into the show or just want to see some pretty Japanese scenary, its worth a watch, otherwise you can just skip it and get back to watching the “real” show.

Phil on… Kill la Kill (ep ?)

This week’s episode was interesting. There was less action compared to other weeks, but instead we get some character development for Ryūko and Gamagoori (especially Gamagoori, the disciplinary officer). With Ryūko’s flashback we learn a bit more about her father’s death, and even catch a silhouette of the killer, which looks similar to Satsuki.

This week: All the innuendo

Again with both characters flashbacks we get the faded borders and sepia tones. There are plenty of dynamic shots, especially at the end, which we’re becoming accustomed to in this show. We also learn a bit about Satsuki in Gamagoori’s flashback (how they met), revealing that she despises people who just leach off others, which we’ve never had put quite so plainly so far.

One thing that seemed odd with this episode was the background characters. Normally we’re treated to the same one copied and pasted all over, but during the flashbacks we see a range of different backgrounds characters, with a reasonable level of detail (that is to say they all have actual faces). To be fair there’s no animation to these characters, but it’d be nice to see some variety in the rest of the show.

The school is a giant sailor uniform…

There’s a lot of small things that you might miss this week (I know I missed a few). One of the main ones is the “naturals election” which if you move the “s” you get “natural selection”, perhaps hinting at things to come? The picture above also shows how the school is actually designed like a sailor uniform, further reinforcing the shows “clothing” metaphors. One that I glossed over on last week was that the flashbacks are all done in 4:3 aspect ratio (i.e. old school). It’s the little things really.

The episode acts as an introduction to advancing the plot. There’s not a massive leap forward, but a few steps, seemingly leaving the rest for the next few episodes leaving you wanting the next episode sooner (in my case as soon as this review is written up thankfully!). Finally this week’s title/song is “俺の涙は俺が拭く” or in English: “I Will Wipe My Own Tears”.

Sean on… Galilei Donna (eps 6 and 7)

I love happy stories.

Moon Sketches? Pshaw, those are so last week. The mcguffin quest is pushed to the background somewhat this time, as we skip straight to the end with two episodes focusing on the Galileo Tesoro and the backstory of Adnimoon’s pyschotic son.

In episode numero six, the old sis has fallen ill, forcing our plucky gals to make an emergency stop at the nearest hospital. Which both the sky pirates and Adnimoon’s psycho have also stopped at. Don’t you just love coincidences. Its through this episode we learn the backstories of our antagonists. The skly pirates were all orphans, abandoned as energy grew scare and their families became unable to support them. Growing to resent adults treatment of them, their leader stood up to the abuse one day and this their happy party was formed.

We also learn more about our red shirt wearing monster (I swear he’s inspired by a certain episode of Burn Notice). Coming from a happy rich family who truly believe sharing is caring, when their house falls down for some reason the bums whom he previously helped live proceed to loot the bodies while they’re still warm.

The world sucks Hocchibi, deal with it.

Stuck in some facilities for the parentally lacking, Adnimoon’s CEO chances upon him and likes the look of presumed hatred for humanity in his eyes, and adopts him as his own, leading to his calm yet insane state of being, as he proceeds to shoot through half a hospital wing. Sadly, he hits anexplosive barrel (why is this a trope), leading to lil’s necklace to go mental again as we confirm what the more estute of us called last week.

Sadly, outside of his story, the episode isn’t all there in terms of writing. People without guns manage to perform actions and takedowns faster than those already pointing the barrel at said guy. A blackout puts the hospital into lockdown, leading to our sisters moping about not being able to get through a door they must’ve gone through to get to their current room. A bunch of sick hostages, surrounded by people with guns, start btiching about the bloody temperature. And to top it off, when our nutjob is presented with a chance to off one of his annoyances, he runs out of ammo. Screw using the thrown weapons he was shown using earlier, he just walks off. Gah.

Thankfully episode 7 isn’t such a crapshoot. Using the opening minutes to reaffirm all the details most people would’ve noticed (what the Tesoro is and who Anna, the fangirl, is) before jumping to the boss battle, taking place underwater… because apparently these ships can do that now.

Funnily enough, the show has the smart mindset of you can’t just stick it to the man, as when finally put into a real fight the goldfish is blasted down in style. Our girls go for a final face to face gambit, but our beaten down, with mid staying true to character and surrendering the Tesoro and averting otherwise certain death. The episode ends with the plucky and naive old and lil resuming their search for sketches, getting the one that happened to be on the island they crashed upon (how lucky).

If the last episode doesn’t have that ship wreaking havoc I’ll be disappointed

Thankfully, this episode was a fair bit better in terms of writing. While nobody really evolved or moved on as characters, it wasn’t a sickeningly naive “burning passion beats all” resolution like I feared, and sets up some actual intrigue for the final four episodes, assuming the sketches don’t lead to the true Tesoro or something mundane like that. Although why we had to have a “Japan is awesome” speech from a young Italian girl is beyond me, especially considering this is a Japanese animation.

We even got to see the mother. For a second. Although speaking of adult figures, even when confronted with Anna knowing more than she lets on they don’t really question her. All these little touches about her true motivations, heck, the AI fish filmed her messing around with stuff, are kinda left alone by the sisters for no reason whatsoever, and left for the viewer to puzzle out.

“Yes”, says the audience, “several episodes ago”

And as for the actual animation? Two more action centric episodes helped to keep things lively. Between gun fights and mech action, while nothing was really tactical or planned out, the episodes kept gonig at a decent pace and had enough content to keep the story moving. This certainly has more potential than a lot of the stuff I’m currently watching, so hopefully the approaching climax won’t disappoint.

Mike on… Samurai Flamenco (eps 4 and 5)

Show, I am disappoint.

As a show moves into its fourth and fifth episodes I usually like to take stock of what I’ve seen thus far and make a determination of the show as a whole, and I’m happy to say that I still don’t hate this show. I still maintain that it’s not really for me, but I believe as a whole that this anime is likable and endearing in its own way and that those who watch this far, will continue to watch based largely on exactly how endearing the whole thing is.

That being said, if the things beginning to be introduced in these last two episodes are anything to go by, this show is starting to show signs of playing to a stereotype in a way that makes me a little sad. While still not bad per-se, this show appears to have started to take a turn for the fanservice which is worrying to me as while I didn’t LIKE the show myself, I at least respected it and knew that my dislike of it was just down to personal preference.

These episodes reveal the introduction of a second female character who takes the form of another hero who takes the name of “Flamenco Girl”. While the original hero was clearly a parody of the old Sentai series and that whole archetypal character, Flamenco girl opts to follow what could be considered the female counterpoint to this which is your standard magical girl/sailor scout motif. I’ve made no secret of my distaste for blatant fanservice and unfortunately the introduction of this character truly fits the bill as along with her incredibly revealing outfit and clichéd choice of weaponry, she possesses a chipper, yet bizarrely murderous attitude that seems purely designed to make the fanboys squeal.

I know for a fact that this character does have some genuine depth on par with the other characters and to be fair to the character, what little fanservice is used does have a purpose (in parodying its archetype) and is never really played for the sake of gratuity, a fact that pleases me greatly, but doesn’t avoid the issue.

Despite my new misgivings, this show continues to be great, with good writing and a happy, silly atmosphere that really does suck you in. The atmosphere alone is enough to look past some faults and is displayed in such a way that lets you know that the writers are both taking the subject matter seriously, but aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves. This is not a serious show, but the motivations of the characters involved are taken very seriously as we see their everyday interactions start to outweigh their fantasies; this is a fact that starts to weigh on the characters and the animation reflects this extremely well.

Reading this you will have probably noticed by now that I am still yet to remember the names of the characters, however I honestly believe that their names are not that important. Despite not knowing this about them I find it extremely easy to connect with these characters, indicating to me that if I actually enjoyed this show, I would have no trouble doing so. The first word that comes to my mind when thinking of the plot and setting is “immersive”, in so much as you really feel like you’re witnessing these events, rather than being told a story, so while I don’t know them by name, I really feel connected with them through all their ups and their downs.

I seem to finish every review of this show with the same line, but I still agree that this show is good, but not for everyone. All in all if you like anything I’ve said in these reviews thus far, I implore you to search out and view this anime yourself. While you may not like it, if you’re anything similar to me, you will not regret your experience.

Alexe on… Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (ep 9)

We begin this episode in Magnostadt, as Aladdin and Sphintus relax in their room Aladdin mentions that he (Sphintus) reminds him of Alibaba and he wonders if things are going well for him.

As it turns out, it isn’t.

Unlike the cool preview we got at the end of episode 8 with Alibaba looking down on Leam he is more of a husk.

As it turns out he was robbed of most of his belongings, save his sword and some clothes whist on his journey to Leam and has not eaten in days. Alibaba laments his situation but when he is given
bread by a passerby he decides to head to Shambal Ramal’s Gladiator Training School.

However he is refused entry by the schools guard, a woman named Toto. Toto refuses to let Alibaba in because he does not have a letter of introduction (he did but it got stolen), she does however
agree to let him in if he can beat her in battle. Confident Alibaba accepts her challenge however when he tries to fight he finds himself too weak from hunger and Toto sends him flying out of the school grounds.

Alibaba lands in a crumpled heap and is found by three brothers, they recognise him and later Alibaba wakes up in a bed and remembers the three of them from his time in Balbadd as the Nando
Brothers (for those who can’t remember they were the three thieves that stole Sinbad’s stuff). They explain that the three of them now run a successful casino business and they cloth and feed Alibaba.

As Alibaba eats in the Nando Brothers Casino he helps an old man who is very clearly losing a game (considering that he’s naked) and sees Toto. Toto tries to get the old man to stop gambling and points out that Alibaba was the reason they came to the casino.

The naked man introduces himself as Shambal Ramal and he asks if Alibaba would be willing to have another match with Toto. Alibaba accepts and a crowd gathers around them taking bets. Toto belittles Alibaba however since he has recovered his stamina she soon finds he’s not as weak as he first appeared.

Sensing Alibaba’s strength Shambal allows Toto to use her powers which are normally restricted for the colosseum, Toto’s body glows along with her sword and shield, she then swings at Alibaba.

He manages to block her sword but is sent flying into a pillar, as he gets up he notices how badly he is affected by the attack as he is bleeding and has strong vein lines on his face.

Shambal explains that Toto uses Qi, what everyone else calls Magoi to attack, Alibaba tries to block another attack but the force of Toto’s magoi pushes him out of their small arena. Shambal tells him if he takes anymore of Toto’s attacks neither his body or sword will survive.

Alibaba considers using his Djinn equip but figures he is being tested on his skill so he determinedly decides to beat Toto using only his sword skills, realising that his royal sword play style isn’t working he decides to switch to the style that his teacher Sharrkan uses and it is much more effective. Alibaba knocks Toto down and Shambal ends the match. Toto insists she can still fight but Shambal points out that she has lost, her chest armour falls off and it is revealed that Alibaba managed to cut its straps.

Shambal congratulates him and allows him to come to his training school. Alibaba arrives at the school with him and Toto and tells them about his problems with his Djinn equip. Shambal agrees to do treatment on him to find out what is wrong.

Through Shambal’s treatment (which turns out to be acupuncture) Alibaba discovers that he has two types of magoi in him, Shambal explains that this is bad and if left unchecked it will destroy him. Shambal tells him if he learns to master Magoi Manipulation then he should be able to master the flow of two magoi.

And since Alibaba can’t pay for his treatment Shambal puts him into the colosseum, he cheerfully tells Alibaba not to worry and that if he wins a few rounds he will earn enough money to pay, as Shambal and Toto watch he wonders how Alibaba could have gained that extra flow of magoi and comments that it is more powerful than Alibaba’s own, if Alibaba was able to control it he would become significantly more powerful. A confused Alibaba decides to go along with it and confidently faces his opponents, until it is revealed to be a giant monstrous gorilla.

As Alibaba faces the beast a woman with long blond hair watches from a balcony, a red haired guard in gold armour approaches her and calls her Lady Scheherazade, Leam’s Magi and the episode ends
with the Rukh flying around the colosseum.

——

I think I’ve run out of witty endings, so instead I’ll remind you one more of the Secret Santa, and tell you to go check out the other articles we had this week. Mike did retrospectives on both Strike the Blood and Gungrave, and Reaf wrote about Hulk and Iron-Man’s cartoon adventures. See y’all next week!